A facility upgrade project in Easton, PA could yield a home for Bethlehem Steel FC, as the possibility of the club moving into a renovated Cottingham Stadium is being floated.
After issues prompted the club to leave Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium, the Steel has played most home matches during the 2019 USL Championship season at Talen Energy Stadium, the home of MLS’s Philadelphia Union in Chester. A more permanent facility plan for the Steel could be taking shape, however, as the idea of placing the club at a renovated stadium in Easton is being explored.
Following the 2019 high school football season, Cottingham Stadium will undergo a $13.3 million renovation that includes new bleachers, a press box, locker rooms, and more. The possibility of moving into the stadium is an intriguing one for the Steel, as it would give the club a permanent home in the Lehigh Valley region. However, it is not at all settled whether the Steel will move into the venue, as Easton Area School Board officials would have to commit to upgrading the stadium’s lighting. More from LehighValleyLive.com:
“We’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that we’ve been trying to get back to the Lehigh Valley,” said Rob Hildreth, coordinator of communications for Bethlehem Steel FC.
Easton school board member Robert Fehnel said at Tuesday’s meeting that Cottingham makes sense for the Steel because it’s a grass field. Many high schools in the area have converted to turf.
The Steel used to play at Goodman Stadium on Lehigh University’s campus but had to leave because the lights weren’t bright enough. They played most of this season at the Union’s field, Talen Energy Stadium in Chester. The team moved its three home matches in June to LaSalle University’s field to give the grass at Talen Energy Stadium a break.
The school board will vote later this month on whether to add an alternate bid for the extra lighting. USL matches need at least 120 foot-candles of light on the field, according to Josh Grice of D’Huy Enigneering. High school stadiums are mandated to provide only 50 foot-candles. A foot-candle is a measure of light’s brightness.
The Steel played the 2016-2018 seasons at Goodman Stadium.